Dr. Melba Beals Visits Bradley Academy Students

Virtual school, fieldtrips and zoom meetings have become a part of the culture in schools across Murfreesboro over the past two years. From pen pal experiences to conversations with artists and historians, these interactive experiences allow students and staff to travel and learn around the world.

Today, third through sixth grade students at Bradley Academy experienced history with a visit from 80-year-old Dr. Melba Pattillo Beals.

Dr. Beals, an American journalist and educator was a member of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African American students who were the first to racially integrate Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

This virtual fieldtrip presented an extraordinary opportunity for Bradley students to ask questions of Dr. Beals regarding life 65 years ago as well as today.

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When asked why? She simply said, Central High was ranked 10th in the nation at the time. I wanted to see what was inside. I wanted my equality.”

And, what is equality? Dr. Beals defined equality as voice, choice, and inclusion. You (Bradley students) take school as ordinary but when I grew up, there were white schools and there were African American schools. It was the beginning of change. Find your voice, be your best.

“This was a firsthand experience for students to engage someone who was instrumental in our nation’s history,” says Ken Rocha, Principal. “Her message focused on students’ voices, choices, and inclusion which is as important today as it was sixty years ago.”

Advice to the students? Work hard every day to do the best that you can. Educate yourselves. Put energy into building yourself, your spirit, your being.

Dr. Beals’ book, “Warriors Don’t Cry”, ends with the sentiment that if her experience at Central High School taught her anything, it was that we are all one.

Bradley Academy is an arts integrated school located in the heart of Murfreesboro. Join Bradley Academy and Patterson Park on February 24th from 5-7 p.m. for a Black History Month celebration titled, Moments in African American History. This event will highlight the culture of our African American Community with performances, booths, art, and food.

Dr. Melba Beals

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